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Snoqualmie company's technology a critical tool in coronavirus fight

Spacelabs Healthcare equipment was used for the Apollo moon landing. Today this company's tech helps doctors and nurses care for COVID-19 patients.

A Snoqualmie company’s technology that played an important part of NASA's moon landing is now helping doctors and nurses care for patients infected with coronavirus.

“We are providing the tools that will help them fight the battle on the front lines,” said Shalabh Chandra, president of Spacelabs Healthcare, which makes equipment that monitors patients’ vital signs remotely.

Spacelabs Healthcare started during NASA's Apollo and Gemini space programs. Their equipment allowed teams on earth to monitor astronauts’ vital signs in space and on the surface of the moon.

Today the company manufactures monitors which are used in hospitals around the world. A single nurse can track dozens of patients’ vital signs using a terminal linked to sensors in hospital rooms.

“It has become a significant necessity now,” Chandra said.

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As COVID-19 stresses the planet's hospitals, Spacelabs is seeing an increase in demand for its technology, which helps caregivers maintain their distance from infected patients, the company said.

That means less time at a patient's bedside and it can also mean less use of limited protective equipment like masks and gowns.

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“The more (caregivers) are in touch with the patients directly, the more they are exposed to the virus, and that creates a critical situation for them and for patients who need the care, so remote monitoring is becoming very critical,” Chandra said.

Spacelabs' products also help hospitals convert rooms to intensive care units, which is helping ease a shortage of ICU beds, Chandra said.

He said his company has been preparing for weeks for a surge in demand. They're ramping up production of their products, bringing in additional employees, and adding extra shifts.

Spacelabs is now working with a team from the University of Washington, to potentially start building much needed ventilators, which are in short supply nationwide.

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